Shmiras Haloshon Yomi
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM
Laws of Loshon Hora 10:1-2
The Seven Rules of Toeles
Earlier in this volume, we referred to 7 conditions which must be fulfilled before one is permitted to relate loshon hora l’toeles, for a constructive purpose. These are:
1. One must be absolutely certain that the information is accurate. Either one had to have witnessed the incident himself, or he investigated the report and found it to be accurate. If one has second-hand negative information which he wishes to relate for a constructive purpose, he must make it clear that his words are based on hearsay.
2. One must think the matter through and be sure that a wrong has actually been committed. Sometimes, what one may think is a misdeed may in fact be permitted by halachah. One must be certain that his information and his interpretation of the information are correct before the information can be related.
3. One must first approach the wrongdoer and attempt to persuade him to rectify his behavior. For example: A storekeeper was seen cheating a customer. The first step would be to speak to the storekeeper and try to persuade him to return the money. Only after this fails should one consider informing the customer that he was cheated.
4. One is not permitted to exaggerate in any way. This can be especially difficult in a situation where one is relating information regarding an emotional issue.
5. One’s intention must be solely to help the person who is being victimized. If one harbors any ill will toward the subject of the report, then he is not permitted to relate it for a constructive reason. (Of course, one should make every effort to rid oneself of such ill will.) For example, for a storekeeper to tell a potential customer about his competitor’s wrongdoing would have the likely effect of drawing this customer into his own store. In that case, the discussion would be forbidden. In a case where one has constructive negative information to relate but feels that he has a personal interest in the matter, it would be advisable for him to consult a rav (rabbi).
6. If one can effect the same result without speaking loshon hora, then he must use that option. If one wants to warn a friend not to shop in a certain store because of the proprietor’s dishonesty, and there is a way to convince him to shop elsewhere without speaking badly of the proprietor, then that option must be used.
7. One is not allowed to convey the information if this will result in the subject suffering a greater loss than the halachah allows.
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